“My princesses”, Grigor said again, turning over page for after page on his old laptop, “my beauties.”
At the screen, on several pages, were neatly placed photos of young women. They were smiling - some of them pretended, some quite naturally. Not at all similar to each other, far from the model appearance, and yet beautiful. Grigor took these images from the girls ' personal pages on social networks. He preferred portrait photos, but if he did not find, then he chose from profile, as there the girls put the best and latest photos of them. In his album, under the images, there was brief information about them, basically from the same networks: their name, approximate age, their interests before meeting with Grigor. It was before meeting him, because after meeting him, their destinies, if you can say so, changed a lot.
His first Princess, as he liked to call them, was an ordinary pretty woman of about thirty, who was raising a small daughter alone, and worked as a salesman in the supermarket of a provincial town. Grigor met her exactly four years ago, when his circus troupe, was touring with their performances, visited their city. The local newspaper only briefly said the arrival of the circus, as the journalists would like to more promote the theme of the brutal murders that occurred in the same days on the outskirts of their town.
With his other heroines he had to meet under different circumstances, in different cities and in the most unexpected places.
- “My girls, - Grigor so strongly felt for the girls in the photo tender feelings that sometimes, forgetting, he stroked the computer monitor with his fingers, imagining what concerns their hair, - “My princesses, I am not worthy of you at all.”
Grigor had often wondered why he should have become a part of their lives. Why did anyone think he was worthy of this mission? But there was no answer yet. There was only a call…
Outwardly inconspicuous, of medium height, with a thin and sad face, he could pass us on the street, and in a moment we would have forgotten about his existence. Our hero worked as a clown in a circus, good physical training and flexibility allowed him to supplement his fun numbers with acrobatic elements, which he performed no worse than gymnasts. He did not like his profession, but he performed it flawlessly, for which the public loved his. The love of the audience was somewhat peculiar, and it was expressed mainly in wild laughter and happy hooting, when the clown was slapped on the stage, kicked in the ass, tripped up. This made the women gasped, the children squealed, and the men smile contentedly and shout: "Let's go again!"And he only clumsily fell, but it seemed so painful that after another somersault, the audience thought that Grigor will not be able to get up from the floor, but he rose to the applause and smiling guiltily, bowed to the audience and colleagues who played the role of offenders. The clown became more and more distressed every year that his audience was impressed by anything related to violence.
In recent years, Grigor's life has taken on a special meaning, has become much more exciting. The days were brighter and brighter from the moment he heard the very first call. He was addressed in a dream, and he believed it was someone very important talking to him. Since then, he had never disobeyed the orders he received during his visions. As a reward, his childhood memories were less frequent, and his nightmares had stopped altogether.
So this time Grigor came with colleagues to work on tour in another city. He took another look at the photos, and then closed his laptop with a heavy sigh. His lips whispered, "There will be no mercy."
Grigor put the computer in the suitcase with the combination lock. He placed the leather bag he had taken from under the bed in the hotel room on the empty table to make sure everything was ready. From the bottom of the bag, he took out a bundle of heavy cloth and unfolded it. It was his makeshift tool kit, invariably transported from one city to another along with other travel items. In the pockets of the bundle tightly packed were terrible-looking all sorts of stabbing and cutting objects. In this collection you could find throwing knives with a ring on the handle, and something resembling a reduced tomahawk, but it was not like what is usually boasted by collectors of weapons. All items were completely absent, the so-called presentation. The knives did not have the luster of steel, but on the contrary, were covered with a gray matte paint. Each item was removed from the bundle, examined, and carefully cleaned. The bundle itself was sewn in such a way that, if necessary, it could be put on a belt. But it wasn't necessary yet. Grigor had not been assigned anything for almost two months. He was beginning to feel sad. The mood was gone, the days were becoming ordinary and gray again, even the food tasted bland and monotonous. There was a fear that the nightmares would return. Was he no longer needed?
But the night brought with it a long-awaited dream, one that had happened before, familiar in content, but still, as the first time, sad and overwhelming. The nightmare had the kind of numbness that might be experienced by a small animal thrown to a toothy and huge predator for dinner. Grigor in such dreams saw himself as a child, each time different: a boy, a girl, then healthy, then disabled, sometimes in the house of rich people, sometimes in the home of the poor. And sometimes, in his sleep, he suffered from cold and hunger, being in some dark and fetid gateway. Sometimes, in the visions that had tormented him before, he had heard shouts at himself in all sorts of languages and suffered all sorts of beatings. But today's dreams were connected with his own childhood: his father shouting at his mother and raising his hand to her, her tears and bitter crying. Grigor saw himself sitting under the table, hugging the table leg in horror. The tablecloth rises and his dear grandmother bends down to him: "Grigorash, my dear, come with me, my son."
His grandmother takes him gently by the hand and, leading him out from under the table, opens the old wooden door for him. Bright sunlight bursts into the room, and when his eyes get a little used to it, little Grigor sees a green glade under a clear blue sky.
- “Grigorash, listen to me carefully…”
- “Grandma, how am I going to find her?”
- “She'll come.”
- “A lot of people come to me, how do I know her?”
- “You are attentive, Grigorash, you will understand everything.”
The day passed quickly, and Grigor rejoiced - finally he was called back. He wanted to jump for joy like a small child, and his heart was jumping out of his chest with anticipation of what was coming.
It was clear that his new lady must come herself, which means that it will be someone from the audience at today's circus performance. But who exactly? Peering behind the curtain during performances, he looked for the woman sitting in the second row in the fourteenth place. A little earlier Grigor heard these numbers through the signs:
- “She's in the second row.”
- “What did you say?” - Grigor coming to himself, asked Victor-aerialist, which entered the building of the circus.
- “I say, this blonde, without warning, turned from the second row, who only gave her the driver's license,” - lamented a colleague, and after a couple of phrases, telling already about something else, added – “the fourteenth place.”
- “What? Who has the fourteenth place?”
- “Where are you, my friend? I mean, this reckless woman tried to tell me that her insurance company was ranked fourteenth place in the top twenty in the country.”
- “I see,” Grigor nodded understandingly, going over these numbers in his head and understanding why these numbers sounded to him…
The clown this evening was inimitable. Having worked his way out superbly, Grigor even managed to stare into the eyes of his new princess a couple of times when he was addressing the audience. He asked the audience, and looked at her. She was magnificent: fragile and delicate; her eyes full of joy, and childish naivety, looked at the stage, then at the little boy sitting next to her. Most likely, he was her son, and she looked at him, wanting to see in his face whether he liked what was happening on the stage, and whether he was happy in the circus.
It was already dark outside when Grigor, fully armed, watched from the side of the audience coming out of the building. The show was over; the clown had already washed off his make-up, removed his wig, and stood like a typical townsman under one of the broken lanterns in the square in front of the circus. Beneath the sports jacket, the faithful blades rested, waiting for their time.
Here she came out. Shrinking from the evening chill, she held the raised collar of her white light cloak in one hand, and held her son's hand firmly in the other. Together, as Grigor had suggested, they walked quickly to the tram stop. Keeping a little apart, he followed them, and like other people who had come from the circus to the stop, he waited casually for the right tram. Then there was a transfer, a long way through the dark city, people on the way met less and less. Grigor, not a step behind, still tried to go as far as possible, so as not to frighten a lonely mother with her child. He noticed that the girl had decided to shorten her journey by climbing through the bars of the school fence, thus repeating the common mistake of other young women in his file.
Their road now ran through the school's athletic field and football field. That is, the path has turned from deserted to completely lifeless. So it was time for action. Grigor began to pick up speed, and increasingly reduce the distance between him and the girl. Several more figures appeared on the dimly lit soccer field through which she and her son had decided to walk. Their silhouettes were separated from the row of unkempt bushes that grew along the edge of the running track that bordered the football field. Grigor counted at least six people. It was clear from the voices and posture that they were young men. Some of them were holding beer bottles, and one had what looked like a bat. The girl, noticing them, quickly went in the other direction. But those men, something rude shouting after her and loudly cackling, in two counts caught up with her, and fell to the ground. The child began to cry and he was immediately thrown back by one of the boys with a jerk by the collar. The girl screamed, but almost immediately stopped, because her mouth was closed by two thugs who fell on her. The child lying on the ground did not stop crying, and the man with the bat raised it over the boy. Less than ten seconds had passed since the attack began, but what happened next was much more rapid. The fingers of the man holding the bat suddenly relaxed, and it fell from his hands behind his back, raised above his head. Still not understanding anything, he turned to his friends and wanted to say something, but instead of words, a blood clot splashed out of his mouth, splattering the surrounding people. The friends shrank back in disgust, watching their friend falls weakly to his knees and grabs at his throat with both hands. The three who were standing also suddenly fell to the ground without making a single sound. One of those guys who tried to cope with the lying girl, raised his head and saw friends immobilized, asked, not understanding, the one who still remained on his knees: “What are you doing, morons?”
But instead of answering, he saw a stranger came up behind his silent friend and pulling something out of his bubbling neck. Without the words, Grigor pounced on the other two.
With tenderness, he helped the poor girl to get out from under the bodies. Distraught with fear, she crawled on the knees to her son. Grigor wanted to lift the boy to his feet, but the mother hugged the child sharply turned her back to the defender. The woman and the boy were shaking. Grigor sat down beside them and put his hands to their heads, so that the cool palms touched their temples. He closed his eyes, and for a moment, clenching his teeth, twisted his face into a painful grimace. The pain was gone; or rather it was in him. The tremor and panic vanished instantly. The girl calmed down, and even more tightly hugging her son, stroking his head, quietly whispered something in his ear. Grigor sat down next to them on the ground, and smiling, watched as the family gradually becomes easier.
- “Who are you?” the girl asked.
- “It doesn't matter at all. What's your name, beauty?”
- “I’m Vera.”
- “What’s beautiful name. You'll be all right, Vera,” Grigor said, and then, turning to her son, he said, “Take care of your mother.”
After these words, he went to his hotel, quietly glad that his file was replenished with another rescued princess...
Thank you for reading!